Technology and Disability - Volume Pre-press, issue Pre-press
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Technology and Disability communicates knowledge about the field of assistive technology devices and services, within the context of the lives of end users - persons with disabilities and their family members. While the topics are technical in nature, the articles are written for broad comprehension despite the reader's education or training.
Technology and Disability's contents cover research and development efforts, education and training programs, service and policy activities and consumer experiences.
The term Technology refers to assistive devices and services.
- The term Disability refers to both permanent and temporary functional limitations experienced by people of any age within any circumstance.
- The term and underscores the editorial commitment to seek for articles which see technology linked to disability as a means to support or compensate the person in daily functioning.
The Editor also attempts to link the themes of technology and disability through the selection of appropriate basic and applied research papers, review articles, case studies, programme descriptions, letters to the Editor and commentaries. Suggestions for thematic issues and proposed manuscripts are welcomed.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Web accessibility is one of the most important aspects of building a website. It is important for web developers to ensure that their website is accessible according to WCAG standards for people with different range of abilities. There is plethora of tools for ensuring conformance to WCAG standards but not many studies compared performance of automatic WCAG tools. OBJECTIVE: This paper compares a set of ten WCAG tools and their results in terms of ease of comprehension and interpretation by web developers. We proposed a Common User Profile format to help personalize contents of website…making it accessible to people with different range of abilities. METHODS: We selected ten WCAG tools from World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to evaluate landing pages of two popular websites. For each webpage, we identified accessibility issues and recommended alternate suggestions to help developers improve accessibility. Further, we highlighted accessibility issues that cannot be captured only through conformance to WCAG tools; and proposed additional methods to evaluate accessibility through an Inclusive User Model. We then demonstrated how simulation of user interaction can capture usability and accessibility issues that are not detected through only syntactic analysis of websites’ content. Finally, we proposed a Common User Profile format that can be used to compare and contrast accessibility systems and services, and to simulate and personalize interaction for users with different range of abilities. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: After careful evaluation of two websites using the ten tools, we noted that, both websites lacked color contrast between background and foreground; lack of sign language alternatives; opening of pop-ups without proper warnings and so on. Further, results from comparative analysis of selected web accessibility tools noted that, there is no single tool that can be found ideal in all aspects. However, from our study, Utilitia Validator by Utilitia SP. z O.O was considered the most feasible tool. By rectifying and incorporating issues and alternate suggestions by simulation study and Common User Profile format respectively, developers can improve both websites making it accessible to maximum audience.
Keywords: WCAG guidelines, World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), accessibility evaluation tools, Cambridge Simulator, Inclusive User Model, common user profile
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic degenerative neurological disease with visual, sensitive, motor, or cognitive symptoms. Physical activities are recommended for people with MS (pwMS) who are at home instead of in a rehabilitation program, to help them to maintain their autonomy. Since a lack of motivation appears to be the principal barrier for pwMS to practice exercises, it is necessary to evaluate whether mobile health (mHealth) tools can offer a solution to stimulate their motivation. OBJECTIVE: This literature review analyzes papers to investigate to how a mobile application can motivate pwMS to practice physical…activities and manage their fatigue. METHODS: We performed an automatic query from digital libraries and analyzed the studies. RESULTS: We selected seven articles that responded to our criteria. These studies tested mobile applications that used different strategies to motivate pwMS to practice physical exercises at home and manage their fatigue. A lack of motivation was the main obstacle, but depending on the type of exercises chosen, some application settings seemed to resolve this issue. CONCLUSIONS: Studies in this area are limited, although this literature review highlights the need for mHealth tools in which pwMS and their therapists contribute to their use and conception.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Young adults with an intellectual disability require transportation to participate in work and leisure, however reports on specific public transportation training programs, use of assistive technology supports, and outcomes are limited. OBJECTIVE: This pilot study was designed to explore if a transportation training program which utilized technology aids decreased the amount travel assistance required. A secondary objective was to observe and describe the specific assistive technology utilized while traveling within the community. METHODS: Eight individualized training sessions were administered within the community with the integration of technology aids and travel skill training…through a facilitated learning model. The Pre & Post Travel Training Test was administered pre-test and post-test. RESULTS: The paired t test (n = 10) revealed a significant increase in scores upon post-test (p = 0.00011), indicating a decrease in assistance required for travel. The most preferred technology aid was individualized, printed Google Maps directions (60%) followed by smartphone Apps (40%) and visual social stories (40%). CONCLUSIONS: All participants increased independence in public transportation travel skills. Ample opportunity to trial low to high technology aids should be considered. Through this initial pilot, possible greater availability of access to work and community opportunities may result after community-based transportation training.
Keywords: Travel instruction, community mobility, intellectual disability, public transportation, assistive technology
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Walking speed predicts important clinical outcomes in older adults and is one of the most significant indicators of frailty. OBJECTIVE: To test whether it is feasible to measure walking speed frequently and unobtrusively in the home. METHODS: A longitudinal feasibility study was conducted comprising the installation and monitoring of continuous measurement walking speed sensors in twenty frail older adults’ homes for a period of twelve weeks (eighteen participants completed the study). Manual walking speed, frailty level and health status were measured at four-weekly intervals. Qualitative interviews were conducted at the end of…the study to assess participants’ attitudes to the sensors and to the concept of continuous in-home walking speed measurement. RESULTS: There was a high degree of variance to the number of walking speed measurements recorded by each participant’s sensor (median 1942.39, range 2-3617). Participants indicated acceptability of both the sensor within the home and the concept of in-home walking speed measurement. CONCLUSIONS: Where regular measurement was achieved, the results indicate that walking speed might be better viewed as a distribution rather than a single figure, taking into account the natural variation to walking speed in daily life. This study demonstrates the feasibility of continuous ambient in-home walking speed monitoring of older adults with a low-cost, easily deployed device.
Keywords: Walking speed, digital health technology, health monitoring, frailty, older people
Abstract: BACKGROUND: This paper considered the development of a wearable electronic mobility aid. METHODS: The developed system is based on the multisensor fusion approach of detection which combined three techniques, namely: a source of laser light, a camera and an ultrasonic sensor. A red line generating laser source is used to project a straight line and this is captured by the camera. The red line is deformed differently on coming in contact with holes or standing obstacles. The pattern of deformation is then extracted for obstacle and pothole recognition. The visibility of laser light is greatly reduced when…the scene is extremely illuminated, so this is complemented with edge detection. The edge detection uses edges in the identification of holes and obstacles. This is combined with ultrasonic sensing, so that the presence of obstacles can be differentiated from that of holes. The outcome of detection and the distance of obstacles from the blind are relayed via an audio cue. REDULTS: Its evaluation showed better performance compared to the guide cane. It showed a reduction in collision rate by 83.25% and reduction in falling rate by 84.62%. The device received good acceptability from the users.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Manual wheelchair users are at a high risk of repetitive strain injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, and rotator cuff tears due to propelling their wheelchair for mobility. Rolling resistance (RR) is one of the key forces that leads to increased propulsion forces and risk of injuries. OBJECTIVE: To better understand the factors contributing to RR, we iteratively designed, developed, and validated a drum-based testing machine and test method. METHODS: As part of the validation of the system, we tested and compared 4 manual wheelchair wheels under a range of conditions including camber, toe…in/out, tire pressure, surfaces, and speed. A treadmill was employed to simulate flat ground RR. RESULTS: A machine was effectively design, developed, and tested to measure RR. Tire type, surfaces, and toe were found to be the largest contributors to RR. Comparison of the drum-based system to flat ground revealed that an offset can be used to calculate overground RR from drum measurements. CONCLUSIONS: Ongoing work includes performing a comprehensive analysis of the degree to which each factor contributes to RR of commonly used casters and rear-wheels so that the wheelchair sector can work to reduce RR and the associated risk of repetitive strain injuries.